News / Europe

    Russia, West Reach Agreement on Easing Ukraine Tensions

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left,  shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a bilateral meeting to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine, April 17, 2014.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a bilateral meeting to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine, April 17, 2014.
    VOA News
    Top diplomats from Ukraine, Russia, the European Union and the United States have agreed on a set of measures to ease mounting tensions in eastern Ukraine.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking Thursday in Geneva, said the measures include disarming pro-Russian militants occupying buildings in eastern Ukraine and the return of the buildings to their legitimate owners.

    A joint statement from the four powers says amnesty will be granted to protesters who surrender weapons and leave the buildings, except for those found guilty of capital crimes.

    Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who already are in Ukraine, will be engaged in putting the de-escalation measures into place.
     
    Donetsk, UkraineDonetsk, Ukraine
    x
    Donetsk, Ukraine
    Donetsk, Ukraine
    Kerry warned, however, that so far these plans are just "words on paper" and success will depend on how they are carried out.

    At a White House press breifing later, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed caution.

    The president said he hopes Russia lives up to the Ukraine agreement, but he added that past practice makes it unlikely.

    "I don't think we can be sure of anything at this point," he said. "I think there is the possibility, the prospect, that the diplomacy may de-escalate the situation."

    Obama left open the possibility of more sanctions if diplomacy fails.

    "We have put in place additional consequences that we can impose on the Russians if we do not see actual improvement of the situation," he said.

    Obama said a military option is not on the table.

    The president consulted with European allies by phone Thursday to discuss a response to Russia if it does not follow through on its promises.
     
    The seven-paragraph agreement reached in London on Thursday does not specifically require Moscow to withdraw 40,000 troops massed on its border with Ukraine, and does not reference Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula last month.  It also does not obligate Moscow to hold direct talks with the interim government in Kyiv.

    But the four-party statement says monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will immediately begin to put the de-escalation measures into place.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the four parties will work to establish a broad national dialogue to ensure protection of Ukrainians' rights.
     
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry looks at EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton after talks on the situation in Ukraine, in Geneva, April 17, 2014.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry looks at EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton after talks on the situation in Ukraine, in Geneva, April 17, 2014.
    x
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry looks at EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton after talks on the situation in Ukraine, in Geneva, April 17, 2014.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry looks at EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton after talks on the situation in Ukraine, in Geneva, April 17, 2014.
    Kerry met separately with Lavrov, Ukraine's foreign minister Andrii Deshchytsia, and the European Union's Catherine Ashton before the group meeting started.

    Moscow has said it has the right to protect Russian speakers in Ukraine. It accuses the new Ukrainian leadership of being anti-Russian and anti-Semitic and of threatening the rights of pro-Russians.

    But senior U.N. human rights official Ivan Simonvic told the Security Council Wednesday that during two trips to Ukraine in March, his team found no widespread attacks against ethnic-Russians.

    Moscow calls the U.N. report biased and unfounded.
     
    The tentative agreement could put on hold economic sanctions the West had prepared to impose on Russia if the talks were fruitless

    And that would ease international pressure both on Moscow and nervous European Union nations that depend on Russia for their energy.

    Kerry said "there was no discussion" of the removal of immediate sanctions.

    'Chilling' reports

    Ukrainian and Israeli media are reporting that Jews in the eastern city of Donetsk -- where pro-Russian militants have taken control of government buildings -- were ordered to "register" with those who are trying to force the city to become part of Russia.

    U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoff Pyatt is confirming that "chilling" anti-semitic leaflets in Donetsk appear to be "the real deal."

    Kerry also mentioned the reported anti-Jewish incident in eastern Ukraine, and a threat to the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Kerry condemned the move. "In the year 2014, after all of the miles traveled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it's grotesque. It is beyond unacceptable," he told reporters.
     
    • A column of combat vehicles with a Russian flag on the front one makes its way to the town of Kramatorsk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
    • A combat vehicle with gunmen on top makes its way through a checkpoint to the town of Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
    • A masked gunman guards combat vehicles with Russian, Donetsk Republic and Ukrainian paratroopers, flags and gunmen on top, Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
    • Local residents bring flowers to place them on armored personnel carriers in Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
    • Masked pro-Russian gunmen attack a photojournalist near combat vehicles flying a Russian flag, in Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
    • An Orthodox icon is displayed on barricades in front of a city parliament in Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
    • A woman cleans up trash in front of an entrance to a city administration building in Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
    • Ukrainian servicemen look at a Ukrainian military jet fly above them while they sit on top of armored personnel carriers in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
    • A Ukrainian Army helicopter flies over a column of Ukrainian Army combat vehicles on the way to the town of Kramatorsk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.

    Lisa Schlein in Geneva and Luis Ramirez at the White House contributed material for this report

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    by: Navrilov from: Ukraine
    April 19, 2014 2:32 PM
    it should be glaringly obvious that Putin want Israel in Russia's embrace. Today, as we speak, Russia stands in the shadow of Israel nuclear technology. There is nothing Putin will not do to foment discord and suspicion between US and Israel - including spreading lies about Kiev's "neo fascist" Government that exclude Jews from Ukraine. Anyone who knows any History could tell you that Jews have been here and in Poland and in Germany ever since these vast regions were called Barbarian forests by the Romans. Ukrainians are very protective of their Jewish communities.
    All I want to tell you is please just to consider how much Putin wants Israel in Russian embrace - he will do everything - including telling lies about Kiev "fascist" government. We don't have fascist government here. we try to make Western Government.
    In Response

    by: Marine from: USA
    April 19, 2014 6:42 PM
    hey Dude, Navrilov, if you think that Putin can pry Israel off of US... think again body... even a stupid bumbling Obama - probably the greatest idiot ever to occupy the Oval Office - will never allow that to happen. Putin can try to paint your Government as Fashistic but that does not signify here. actually he can have the Ukraine, but if he tries to lay his hands on Israel - we go to WAR...!!! RESPECT...!!!

    by: Cami from: florida
    April 19, 2014 8:37 AM
    We're just wasting time. Putin just takes our time, stalls, lies, .. and eventually it won't be Ukraine alone we will need to defend, but the Baltic states, and eventually even our own. Today Putin says Alaska is too cold to annex, .. but Spring, Summer is coming and he'll soon find Alaska (with its oil) attractive too ... Look back at WWII, and how many countries Hitler went into to "protect" the Germans -- Putin is a reincarnation .. and because he has not been stopped to date, it gives him the idea that he is unstoppable, that he is virtually a god

    by: John Deep from: US
    April 18, 2014 6:36 PM
    Should all the so called crusaders (US, UK & EU) of the world not try to force a proper election in Ukrain to ease the issue. It looks like most of the civilians in the country don't recognize the leaders in Keiv now.. Forget about Russia. As an outsider I feel Russia is right in calling the current leaders as terrorists... Are we trying to create another Afgan / Iraq in Ukrain and create a threat to world ???

    by: John Deep from: LA
    April 18, 2014 6:30 PM
    Why do we need to be so involved in Ukrain issue?? Is US and UK still in cold war era?? As a sensible citizen, we should try to improve our economy than wasting time on likes of Syria, Ukrain, Afganistan, Libya, Iraq, etc.. Hopefully the idiots in politics would realize at some stage to concentrate on internal issues than poking nose in other countries. We are no longer the best economy in the world. Looks like China is.... We need to think why China is biggest force now not us?? How much they engage with other's issue. Though they are bit greedy in expanding their own border..

    by: AlexUKE from: Ottawa
    April 18, 2014 2:41 PM


    Washington’s decision to provide financial aid to the coup-appointed
    government of Ukraine goes against the US laws.

    In accordance with the amendments introduced to the 1961 law (Foreign Assistance Act) a few years ago the provision of foreign assistance is prohibited to ‘the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.’ The relevant provision is contained in22 US Code § 8422.

    by: Jimp from: USA
    April 18, 2014 6:57 AM
    Very sad day in America we have become all that we claim to fight against. An unbiased UN? Right. Major fascism these days from USA, sad but very true. I get the impression most on this forum are very interested in going to war with Russia. The comments coming from the Obama administration in this article are completely unprofessional and counterproductive. Self-fulfilling prophecy to disaster.
    In Response

    by: Tom Murphy from: Northern Virginia
    April 18, 2014 3:01 PM
    Jimp,
    The sadness is that Russia and its supporters, like yourself, talk so lightly about nuclear war and threaten the USA in their statements with nuclear war. Its Russia that has invaded the territory of another country without provocation and Putin has even threatened to invade any other country with a Russian-speaking population, which includes the USA. In this respect, any nation with a Russian-speaking population should begin the process of deporting Russian speakers back to Russia to preclude any possible pretext that Putin might have for invading their country.
    In Response

    by: Arrin Crowell from: batesville indiana
    April 18, 2014 12:09 PM
    i think that we will go to war with russia and lose a lot of men and women in our military but if thats war russia wants then so be it

    by: IrrateRick from: China
    April 18, 2014 1:34 AM
    The richness of the Russian double-standard cannot be missed by the discerning reader. Here is double speak in all its Orwellian glory on full display in the new century. If we are to believe Putin and his minions, Kiev is fascist while he is democratically minded. Yes, and up is down, Alice. Only Eastern Europeans and the Baltic states are clear-eyed about what Russia is doing--having seen much of the same from the Soviets in decades past.

    by: Climp Jones
    April 17, 2014 8:07 PM
    this whole situation is a very savvy maneuver on the part of Putin and his pals. Not only have they managed to acquire a strategic piece of territory they've also managed to sucker the US and Europe into paying Ukraine's bills/debt's. No more being tardy on the part of the Ukrainian Government when it comes to paying Russia for its energy. Too funny!
    In Response

    by: B Stewart from: Florida
    April 18, 2014 12:59 AM
    Putin savvy? Truth behind the Crimea takeover = failing Russian economy, value of the ruble is dropping daily, so keep heroizing an inevitable failure

    by: Eric Holder from: DC
    April 17, 2014 6:26 PM
    John Brennan went to Kyiv????? Does not take a rocket scientist to figure out his motive. He is the boss of a real SCUMBAG organization. FACT!
    In Response

    by: don rahilly from: dayton , ohio
    April 18, 2014 6:33 AM
    You really should get out and read more. There are many reasons we are at the top in world diplomacy and monetary value. The CIA is part of that equation. Simple-minded people look at them with fear. Those of us that actually think look at them as the tool they are in helping us maintain world peace. Crawl back.
    In Response

    by: IrrateRick from: China
    April 18, 2014 1:31 AM
    Eric,

    Don't you have some evidence to hide instead of posting mindlessly?

    by: Richard from: Speer
    April 17, 2014 1:40 PM
    I wish people who have never lived in Ukraine would just shut up.
    In Response

    by: Arrin Crowell from: batesville indiana
    April 18, 2014 12:11 PM
    no they don't need to but if we went too war with russia then so be it they want war they get death

    p.s. im 16 years old and i know more about this
    In Response

    by: Tom Murphy from: Northern Virginia
    April 17, 2014 11:01 PM
    So, are you telling Vlad Putin and Vitaly Lavrov to shut up???
    Comments page of 2
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